The astromech droid R2-D2 was one of the first characters that we met at the beginning of Star Wars (Episode IV a New Hope to the Younglings). Along with C-3PO, he (why is it virtually always he?) is one of the few characters to be involved in each of the films of the Skywalker Saga. As such, he was felt to be a suitable subject for the set celebrating 50 years of Lucasfilm, as well as appearing in time for May the 4th celebrations this year.
The set will go on sale May 1, exclusively at LEGO Branded Stores, including the online store, priced at 199 EUR/USD – 179,99 GBP – 329.99 AUD – 269.99 CAD.
The AFOL Engagement Team of the LEGO Group sent me a pre-release copy of the new 75308. Join me as we wander through the build, and see if this set has sufficient material to justify an outlay of your money.
I missed out on the earlier version, 10225 from 2012, but this model is built at a similar scale. There are significant cosmetic differences, as well as a completely revised mechanism for dropping the central leg. How much does it vary from that older model? Perhaps we shall find as we progress.
Try as I like, I still struggle to take a good picture of a large black cardboard box, so I will use the stock images here. I think that the black box works really well for showing off the final model. The rear of the box zooms in on different highlights of the the model. as well as providing shots of R2-D2 at different points in the saga.
Unlike the previous model, there is only one instruction manual, with 284 pages. The first few are dedicated to publicity shots and behind the scenes images from the past 45 years, as well as a brief history of the droid, both in Universe, and real life.
The instructions follow. After flirting with black pages in 18+ sets for a while, the Building Experience team appear to have taken some robust feedback on board, and the pages showing the construction of the model are a light grey, making the instructions fairly easy to read.
Lets move on with the build:
Our first bag consists primarily of technic elements, as well as a 4×4 plate with cutout, with is used to attach a turntable to the top of our a square based technic core. Missing from this image are 2 white rubber bands, which are used to snap a hitherto mystery mechanism between two states.
I appreciate the use of the green and red lift arms to help orient me to the build as this bag came together: in this sort of build, particularly if you are not a ‘native Technic builder,’ it is useful to beable to get all of the help that you can when putting something unfamiliar together. There are a number of pegs protruding outwards at different points, which I expect will help things to attach to this core, as we build onwards.
After a bag of Technic processes, this bag is predominantly system bricks, including curved slopes, regular sloped bricks and some of the rounded elements: both 2×1 plates, and the 1×1 tile with half circle. Neither of these elements were available in the previous version of this set.
Here we build Artoo’s central leg. flipping the mechanism at the rubber band acts to held the leg up, iur allow it to drop. I appreciare the effect of the curved plates and tiles around the base of the foot. they break up a grea wall of white, not just with colour, but also texture. The foot is restricted as to just how far it can tilt.
I dont want to say that a pattern is forming with alternating Technic- system – technic bags, because I will probably be proven wrong pretty quickly! But this bag is almost all Technic elements, except for some bars, rounded 2×1 plates and a couple of tiles.
We build up a panel for each side, which incorporates a sliding mechanism, which pushes the silver tubes, each with a different tool on the end forward. Again, green and red beams are used to orient your direction within the build. There are helpful break out boxes in the instructions to ensure you attach the external elements with the mechanism in the correct place.
There are lateral frames protruding which engage with the slots in the leg mechanism. When we have completed the bag, we are left with what is essentially a box on a stalk.
With so many elements that my wife ended up knolling the elements onto a second tray, bag four is spent with another dose of plate and brick stacking. We do this to create the two side panels for out model. these panels are identical, rather than mirror images of each other. A combination of curved slopes and sloped bricks works well to conver the shape of the droid, avoiding some of the ‘blockiness’ of the previous model.
Detail is provided through the use of recessed grilles, in pearl metallic silver, as well as wedge plates leaving octagonal cutout, enclosing a circular tile. Just the right amount of detail to include here, to keep the build engaging.
These panels slot into holes in the beam of the core frame, and are then secured with plates underneath. These panels have a row of studs at the top, to allow building at the top end of the model.
Bag 5 consists primarily of system bricks, built around a technic core, and these make up the legs. You can see that descending brackets are used, and held together by tiles on the side.
In this step, we will be building the outer feet – and we have many similar elements to the base of the central leg: rounded tiles and 1×2 plates. We also have the new, recolored element for this set: the 12M flex tube, in pearl metallic gold. This is used as piping around the feet, and while it may not be screen realistic, it provides great contrast to the prevailing colour palette in the set. I’m going to run with this being in honor of the Golden Anniversary of Lucasfilm.
The feet are pinned onto the end of the legs. One thing you notice is that this model is not rolling anywhere. There are convex inverse 2×2 circular tiles underneath the feet, which serve to hold R2-D2 in place on the shelf. At least he won’t be able to roll off.
Bag 7 & 8
Another bag of predominantly system construction. The Pattern is broken. Lots of curved slopes, and some greebling elements, as well as dark blue tiles see us complete the legs – wrapping them up nicely, and building up the arch with sloped and curved slope bricks. The arch is similar to before, but the ‘shoulder servos’ are now simplified with the new(ish) round design brick.
In my enthusiasm, at this point I failed to pause to take photographs of the legs until I had completed Bag 9. So we will see theme soon enough. It is worth the wait. Dark blue curved slopes form the basis of Artoo’s out folding tool panels. We start work on the front panel: building the fold out instruments, as well as the vent on the bottom. I like the way that the taper, seen at the bottom of R2-D2’s torso is exectued, adding wedge plates and some slopes to achieve the effect.
This bag features the elements to complete the chest plate. The central grille outlines are thanks to the 3×4 mudguard with plate, which is attached using the ‘T-Plate/ tile with plate in centre’ I still think of it as a ‘Minecraft foot piece’ , but the official LEGO name is 1×2 plate with verticall tube! I digress.
These muguards wrap around the centre of the grilles, before they are greebled up. Further T-Plates are there loaded up with bricks or plates (depending on the side of the central panel). This provides an interesting technique to give a great bit of detail. The mudguards don’t perfectly aligh with the central tile, which felt a little disconcerting during instruction, but I feel the effect is better than the older version.
Having completed this panel, we attach it to the front of the the body, and ten add some doors, to cover the tools.
Bag 10 brings us to our rear panel for R2-D2’s torso. It is a simple enough construction, starting at the lower end, with a collection of plates, as well as slopes, to build up the tapering of his torso, we then move upwards, to add detail to a vent. The vent is created using a technic wheel, with stud connections added, and attaching a 3×3 ‘x’ plate. The panel is then filled up with 2×4 curved slopes, along with regular slopes. The double row of studs up the middle reminds us that, above everything else, this is a model made of LEGO Bricks.
We move forward to attach this panel to the rear of the Technic frame. Then we install rods that will act to push the tools through the doors on the front of the body. Tiles around the top will provide a smooth surface for the head to rotate on.
We will now put the body aside for a while, while we start work on the head.
Ands so we come to the characteristic dome. This could have been a marvellous opportunity to introduce a whole new range of drum lacquer silver elements. Instead, its the go-to chrome substitute: medium stone grey. I dream of a glistening, final throne room of episode IV ready R2-D2, but this will not be the one. We build up a ring of plates, in grey and dark blue, initially over a couple of layers. And then we come to a really clever part. The tube sensor (I’m sure it has a proper name), just down and to the right below the main optical sensor, is a little off the grid! It is attached to a brick with a stud on the side, which in turn is between two stacks of studs. The brick has a limited amount of twist, limited by these bricks. We continue layering up our elements, with blocks of colour secured by attaching plates above. Ultimately, we end up with an inner square, with a SNOT ring of slopes and curves around the outside.
There is a mystery plate protruding at the base, but I’m sure it will become more apparent shortly!
Our next bag is predominantly medium stone grey, and contains lots of bricks, plates, slopes and curved slopes. These curved slopes play a vital role in distinguishing the head of this model from the previous one. We add the pirmary optical sensor, on a slightly offset hinge, such that it can tilt back slightly towards the main dome. The Optical sensor itself is a black minifigure dircular shield element, roughly 2.5 modules in diameter. It is a little larger than the 2×2 inverse circular tile element used previously (or indeed, almost directly below in this model) and is a much better look.
We are almost there. Bag 13 is our final bag, and in this final leg, there is a lot going on. We have two printed elements. One, however is a sticker sheet, which goes on the plaque, as is common with these droid sculptures (technically not a UCS model, rather a droid sculpture. The plaque measures 6x12studs, similar to BB8, 1DO and The Child.) There is also an R2-D2 minifigure. The head is the same as we saw introduced last year, in metallic silver, while the torso was introduced in 2014, and still has no printing on the back. >sigh<.
We complete the dome, with a combination of curved sloped, cheese slopes and a radar dish.We also create a lid for a small pocket, walled off by panels, which can be lifted up and reveals Luke’s light saber. This is not built to a scale for figure we have previously seen, and feels not quite right. That said, it is a delightful Easter egg!
Along the way, we discover the periscope, which was revealed in The Empire Strikes Back. It does not go up as high as we see on screen, as much to ensure that it does not catch on elements in the torso. It can support itself, and it captures the spirit of the device nicely.
Having completed the dome, it attached to the turntable base at the top of the central core, which we attached back in bag 1, bringing the first and final steps together in a delightful symmetry.
And here we have the finished model.
Overall, it has been a really satisfying build. The entire process was engaging, and not too repetitive. I really like the way that the curves of this cylinder on legs were shown off: the final effect is much less blocky than 10225 from 2012. I really like the mechanism for lowering the third lego. When you tilt the body back a little, the leg automatically drops, and can be pushed back up when you return the model to the original position. A tiny gripe is that the central leg does not sit flush on the ground when the torso is tilted back.
I really like the way that the front of torso detail is achieved, complete with deployable tools. The feat also look quite realistic against the cinematic stills, although the piping is more of a metallic silver there. The gold feel right to me, however.
The new dome is also an advance over that seem in 10225. It is a testament to the way in which LEGO elements and techniques are developed, that this new dome is certainly more rounded than the ‘all studs affair’ that we saw in 2012.
In fact, the development of curved slope elements in more sizes, as well as increasing the general variety of SNOT elements available, mean that the more you look at these models side by side, the more differences you see. The models are essentially the same size, but the older version feels almost ‘8-bit’ in an increasingly high definition world. I certainly feel that this is a superior model, and would not hesitate to recommend it to any LEGO Star Wars fan who did not already own the older version. That said, I think I would still recommend this one: The subject matter is the same, but apart from a few similarities, it is a completely different model, with what I think is better functionality than the previous version.
Overall, I give this model 4 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise units. It is not quite perfect, but as close as it could be at this scale. At $199.99 euros, the price converts to around $AUD309 this week, and on the whole Australian pricing has been an par with Europe. As such $329.99 feels a little steep. But just a little.
It will be available from LEGO.com from May the 1st 2021.
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What do you think of this version of R2-D2? Is it a day one purchase? Or will you wait for a better opportunity? Leave your comments below, and until next time…
This set was provided for for review purposes by the LEGO Group. All Opinions are my own. The elmements were laid out on trays for your perusal by my wife, whose support has been invaluable in maintaining the blog.
Some Bonus Images:
The 75308 R2-D2 Model is around 30cm tall. How does this compare with other LEGO sculptures you have a round the house? I put it side by side with a couple of models I had hanging around…